Christina works in the Community and Education team at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Her goal is to instil wonder and joy in the new generations of children who visit the Garden.
Since a young age, I have been inspired and fascinated with the form and structure of weird and wonderful plants. As a child I delighted in pulling carrots out of the ground and spraying dirt on my face. I also enjoyed climbing trees and testing the boundaries of just how high I could ascend and just how small a branch could hold my weight.
The inspiration I take from plants looks a little different now – I don't climb trees as often as I once did! But plants still amaze and delight me, and I bring that energy to my work with children on school excursions and in family holiday programs and events.
Reflecting on my own childhood experiences, which informed my learning as an adult, I can see how having positive childhood experiences in nature has a lasting impact on your attitude towards nature.
I was fortunate to have a mother and grandmother who loved growing plants. I was often in awe at the incredible knowledge my nanna shared as we would walk around the neighbourhood looking at the flowers. My mother inspired my love of fresh fruit and vegetables; growing up on a hobby farm on the rich floodplains of the Shoalhaven River, we always had something growing that I could harvest.
I went from climbing trees and making bangles and baskets with the willow in my front garden as a child to studying biology and ecology at university. I then worked in bush regeneration, where I made it my mission to learn as many local Sydney plant species as possible.
Since then, I have retrained as a primary school teacher and worked in environmental education, taking children on bushwalks for school excursions and working as an education officer at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
I love connecting children with nature via my work with the education team. Growing up in the city and the increasingly digital world that children inhabit can create a disconnect between them and the natural world that did not exist for me growing up. But the Garden's unique location in the centre of the city offers an opportunity to provide a place of connection with nature for our city kids. We have gardens that can delight and inspire children (and adults) in so many ways.
I hope that in providing an experience of joy for people, no matter what age, in the beautiful Garden, we will inspire them to love and protect our gardens and natural environments for future generations.